Background. Substance use is a commonly reported problem associated with numerous adverse outcomes among homeless youth. Homelessness is reportedly a covariate to perpetration of, and victimization from, physically violent behavior and property offences. Of particular importance in both the perpetration of, and victimization from these behaviors, is the role of substance use.
Objective. To appraise published studies investigating whether use of substances are associated with (1) perpetration of physically violent behavior or property offences or (2) experience of physical or property victimization among homeless youth. Types and rates of substances used were also examined.
Methods. A comprehensive systematic search of twelve psychology, health, and criminology electronic databases was conducted. Search terms encompassed four areas, (1) homeless youth, (2) substance use, (3) perpetration of physically violent behavior and property offences, and (4) experience of physical and property victimization.
Results. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria. In reviewed studies, alcohol was the most commonly used substance. Findings were inconsistent as to whether substance use was associated with the perpetration of physically violent behavior or property offences or the experience of physical victimization. No reviewed studies examined whether substance use is associated with the experience of property victimization.
Conclusions. The available cross-sectional evidence, while not conclusive, suggests increased perpetration of physically violent behavior and property offences, and increased experience of physical and property victimization when youth reported using substances. Studies advancing knowledge on the influence of substance use on these behaviors and experiences are warranted.
Learning Sciences Institute Australia
Open Access Journal Article
homelessness, substance use, physical violence, property violence, victimization, systematic review
Heerde, J. A & Hemphill, S. (2015). Is substance use associated with perpetration and victimization of physically violent behavior and property offences among homeless youth? A systematic review of international studies. Child and Youth Care Forum: an independent journal of day and residential child and youth care practice,44(2), 277-307. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10566-014-9282-x